I once read a book called The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios. The fascinating narrative is about a young Greek's discernment between Orthodox Christianity and Hinduism. Although he remains anonymous, he writes of his encounters with the different challenges he faces. Ultimately he decides to follow the Christian life.
The most intriguing aspect of the narrative is that even in the ashrams of India, he was able to practice the Christian faith while respecting the Hindu practices. He speaks of chanting his own Christian mantra and reciting the Jesus Prayer. This prayer was introduced to him by Elder Paisios, his spiritual director.
How to pray the Jesus Prayer:
The Jesus Prayer has many variations. Generally, the prayer is along the lines of "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
The prayer may be said for certain periods of time and progress into longer intervals with each passing day, similar to training for a spiritual marathon.
The prayer can be paired with meditative breathing exercises. For every inhale, mentally or audibly recite the prayer. For every exhale, do the same.
The prayer can be used with a prayer rope, rosary, or, in the author's case, a mala. [A mala is a string of beads used to guide a meditative practice, such as breathing and tracking mantras, that comes from the Eastern tradition.] Each bead represents one recitation of the prayer. Similarly, I like to call my rosary "my Catholic mala." This prayer should not be confused as a form of a Hindu mantra, rather a replacement to enhance our relationship with Christ.
Although the prayer is practiced by the Greek Orthodox Church in this book, many Catholics are familiar with this prayer.
The Jesus Prayer is just one more tool that you can use in your yoga practice. You may use this to complement your breathing throughout the yoga practice which also helps to keep your mind focused. You may use this in the yin, or slower, part of class towards the end preparing for savasana.
This prayer is simple but powerful! Utilize this prayer in anyway you can. It will work wonders.
For more information on the Jesus Prayer, click here.
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